Why Starbucks and Rihanna fill my cup

Why do I love Starbucks?
How much time do I have? Not much? Okay, here it is:
It’s not just the coffee; or the original and pleasant decor of their stores; the free WI-FI; or the fact that the music isn’t too loud. What’s perhaps most impressive to me is how intentional* Starbucks is about dealing with the inevitable unpleasantries that come one’s way from time to time in any service-based business.

A case in point: On our way back home from a short winter excursion to the Fairmont Hot Springs resort in British Columbia in February of 2010, my family and I decided to spend some time in Calgary. We stayed at the Hotel Arts, a boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Calgary.

Shortly after we checked into our room, my wife and I went out for a walk. We were pleasantly surprised to discover a Starbucks coffee shop just around the corner from our hotel, and we decided to stop by and refresh ourselves with some freshly brewed coffee. The coffee shop was not busy, (this was just before supper time), and we soon found ourselves at the front of the counter. We were promptly and warmly greeted by the person behind the counter. She first took our order and then proceeded to fill our cups. Suddenly, she came back and said that she was really sorry but that they just ran out of our blend of coffee. She then asked us if we would not mind waiting 3-4 minutes for a freshly brewed batch. Alternatively, she said, we could get any other beverage of our choice at no extra charge.

Sure, this was a small but inconvenient discomfort. The funny thing about all kinds of discomforts is that they tend to be memorable. And not the good kind of memorable. This is why how you handle adverse situations generally determines a lot about how your life turns out.

Since my wife and I wanted this particular blend of coffee, we decided to wait for it. Just as we sat down and started talking about plans for the next day, our server showed up next to our table. With a warm smile on her face she had her arms extended toward us offering us each a small but nicely crafted piece of paper. She told us that our coffee is on its way and that they would appreciate if we’d accept this small token of their appreciation for our patience—see the image on the right. Simply click here and here to enlarge it.

Okay, but what’s Rihanna have to do with all of the above?
In her world-famous song Umbrella (I like it—a lot), Rihanna says:

When the sun shines, we’ll shine together
Told you I’ll be here forever
Said I’ll always be a friend
Took an oath I’ma stick it out till the end
Now that it’s raining more than ever
Know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella…
_ _ _

My 2¢: Deny denial. Bad things happen. Be intentional—be ready. “Be ready for what?,” you may be asking. When you are serving other people, the question is not if but when will the rain come. And when it comes, will you take your customers under your umbrella? How?

1. a determination to act in a certain way
2. what one intends to do or bring about